Visiting Angels Lewisburg Blog

The Importance of Dental Hygiene in Seniors

We all know the importance of brushing and flossing our teeth daily, but did you know more than 25% of adults in the United States suffer from tooth decay and nearly half of all adults show signs of gum disease according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Keeping up on our oral hygiene is a lot of work and as we age, it can become a challenge due to other body aliments that make brushing and flossing harder, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

October is National Dental Hygiene Month, which means it’s the perfect time to educate yourself about the risks of poor dental hygiene, as well as make a commit to improve your oral health. 

Risks of Poor Dental Hygiene The Importance of Dental Hygiene in Seniors

Proper dental hygiene is about more than just keeping your teeth clean. In addition to tooth decay and gum disease, poor dental hygiene can lead to more serious health concerns such as heart disease, bacterial pneumonia and diabetes. As we age, the risk for more serious oral health concerns rise, mainly due to the change in silva production and receding gums. In older adults aged 65 to 74, poor dental hygiene also tends to lead to tooth loss. Those suffering from a chronic illness, weakened immune systems or who take certain medications have a higher risk of contracting more serious oral health problems.

Tips for Better Dental Hygiene in Seniors

Aging doesn’t have to mean an automatic decrease in your oral health. Taking a more conscious approach to how you care for your mouth and teeth can improve your dental hygiene as well as your overall well-being.

  • Brush teeth at least twice a day. Make a habit of brushing your teeth as soon as you wake up and right before bed with a fluoride toothpaste. If you eat a lot of foods high in sugar or acid, be sure to brush after meals as sugar and acidic foods tend to decay teeth faster than other foods. Also make sure to use floss and mouthwash daily for an extra clean mouth.
  • Invest in tools to make dental hygiene easier. Flossing and brushing can be challenging, especially if you suffer from arthritis or other joint issues. Consider buying flossers or soft picks to make flossing easier. You can also purchase electric toothbrushes with rotating brush heads to help clean harder to reach teeth.
  • Keep dentures clean. Remove your denture each night and soak them in a nonabrasive cleanser. You can also clean them nightly with a soft bristle brush to remove any food or other buildup. If your dentures ever become damaged, be sure to consult your dentist right away.
  • Keep up with routine dental appointments. Regularly seeing a dentist at least once a year can help prevent more serious oral health concerns such as gum disease or oral cancer. Dentists can also provide guidance on preventing dry mouth or tips for keeping up with your oral health if you have arthritis, as arthritis can cause discomfort and making brushing and flossing challenging.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Limiting unhealthy foods high in sugar help prevent tooth decay, but it’s also beneficial to consume foods high in calcium to make teeth stronger. Cut back on highly processed foods and incorporate calcium-rich foods such as low-fat yogurt, tofu or salmon. Instead of dairy products, which can often be high in cholesterol, look for soy alternatives such as soy milk or a soy-based yogurt. Also try eating more foods high in vitamin C, such as broccoli and spinach as they promote strong gum health.
  • Limit poor lifestyle habits. Activities such as smoking and drinking not only stain teeth and ware down tooth enamel, but they can also increase dry mouth and gingivitis. Encourage your loved one to minimize their tobacco and alcohol intake.

How Visiting Angels Can Help

At Visiting Angels Lewisburg, we’re available to help your aging loved one build better oral hygiene habits. Our trained caregivers can help loved ones stick to a brushing and flossing schedule, prepare healthy meals low in sugar and acidic foods and even provide transportation to routine dental visits. Our Lewisburg office serves families in Williamsport, Muncy, Lewisburg, Danville, Middleburg, Mifflinburg, Selinsgrove and Sunbury. If you’re interested in learning more about how Visiting Angels can assist you and your family, give us a call at 570-768-4747.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.